HEALTH AND FITNESS: Sports activities physiology within the Tour de France | Options
The 2020 Tour de France, postponed from the normal July begin because of the COVID-19 pandemic, is underway. This yr the race covers over 2,100 miles in 21 days of racing, comprised of staff and particular person time trials in addition to phases by means of the cities, countryside and mountains of France. The Tour de France is particularly fascinating to me as a result of it offers a wonderful alternative for a brief lesson in sports activities physiology.
All of the riders within the Tour are exceptionally match since their our bodies have tailored to years of devoted, intense coaching. Endurance sports activities like biking are depending on the supply of oxygenated blood to the muscle to provide ATP, the vitality wanted to maintain train.
The riders have giant, robust hearts, permitting them to pump extra blood to the muscle. Inside the muscle there is a rise within the variety of capillaries, the small blood vessels that ship blood to the muscle, and mitochondria, the a part of the cell that produces many of the ATP. Collectively, these variations permit the muscle to provide extra ATP with out fatigue, permitting the athlete to train at a better depth for an extended time.
However coaching isn’t the one purpose these athletes can maintain such intense train for thus lengthy. Correct diet, particularly what the athletes eat and drink earlier than, throughout and after every stage, additionally performs an vital function. Intense endurance train like biking depends on carbohydrates – specifically, muscle glycogen – as a gasoline. Muscle glycogen is a storage type of glucose, sugar that the muscle converts into vitality. Throughout extended train that lasts a number of hours, muscle glycogen ranges will be severely depleted.
Consuming carbohydrates earlier than train can increase muscle glycogen ranges, so cyclists eat carbohydrate-rich meals earlier than every day of racing. Additionally they devour carbohydrates within the type of sports activities drinks (suppose Gatorade) and vitality bars previous to beginning. In actual fact, they begin replenishing their muscle glycogen instantly after ending the day gone by’s trip. This often begins with a restoration beverage, which can comprise some protein for extra speedy muscle glycogen synthesis, and extends by means of carbohydrate-rich meals and snacks that afternoon and night.
Throughout train it’s essential to take care of ample blood glucose ranges, which are inclined to drop because the muscle is utilizing a lot as a gasoline. Failure to replenish blood glucose leads to what cyclists name “hitting the wall” or “bonking,” which is like your automobile working out of fuel. To stop this, glucose should be replenished, usually with sports activities drinks, vitality bars or a sugary combination referred to as goo.
Extended, intense train, particularly within the warmth, leads to a excessive sweat charge which might result in dehydration. Sweat lack of a number of liters per hour just isn’t unusual throughout biking, so fluid consumption is crucial. Which means cyclists spend numerous time consuming water whereas they trip. Sports activities drinks are additionally generally used since they comprise carbohydrates and electrolytes along with water.
Endurance occasions like biking, particularly multi-stage occasions just like the Tour de France, spotlight vital ideas of sports activities physiology. Regardless that chances are you’ll by no means compete at that degree, understanding how coaching can enhance your endurance is related in case you cycle – or run, stroll or swim – for train. Understanding how correct diet earlier than, throughout and after train can enhance efficiency might help you make higher choice about what to eat. Hopefully it additionally offers you a larger appreciation for the sports activities science that goes right into a efficiency just like the Tour de France.